Guns & Butter

Guns & Butter was an American sax-rock/psych band from Boston that released a self-titled album on Cotillion in 1972.

Members: Peter Cohen (bass), Lenny Federer (violin, viola), Jeff Lyons (vocals), Richard Ploss (flute, saxophone), Peter Tucker (drums), Paul Cohen (guitar)


Guns & Butter had its roots in a musical partnership between singer Jeff Lyons and bassist Peter Cohen, who started jamming at age 12 (circa 1965) in Marblehead, Mass. They were eventually joined by guitarist Paul Cohen and drummer Peter Tucker, both 14 at the time. Initially a covers band, they entertained at local school dances and partook in “battle of the band” contests.

In the winter of 1970, they hired reedist Richard Ploss, then a freshman at the Berklee College of Music. The following summer, they welcomed Lithuanian-born violinist Lenny Federer, a classically trained alumnus of Boston University and Manhattan’s High School of Music and Art. He was one of four string players on the 1971 Perception Records release Pendulum & Co. A recent convert to rock, he completed the newly named Guns & Butter.

Aspiring manager Neal Grossman took on the band and shopped their demo to various companies. Meanwhile, Guns & Butter gigged lightly on the college circuit. After impressing local club impresario Leonard Sogoloff during an opening set for the James Cotton Blues Band, they became a resident act at Lennie’s on the Turnpike in Peabody, Mass.

In August 1971, just after Lyons and Peter Cohen graduated Marblehead High School, Guns & Butter auditioned for Marshall Chess, director of Rolling Stones Records, who brokered their contract with Atlantic Records. They recorded their singular album that fall at Eastern Sound, Toronto.

1972: Guns & Butter

Guns & Butter was released on Atlantic-subsidiary Cotillion in February 1972. Side one is bookended by two Federer compositions: “I Am” and the epic “Sometimes” (8:34). Ploss co-wrote six numbers, including “Look at the Day,” “It Can’t Go On Like This,” “Lady Grey,” and “The Wanderer.”

The album was co-produced by Neal and Loyd Grossman and co-engineered by David Kalmbach (The Troll, Aorta, Crow) and Steve Bruno, ex-bassist of psychsters Elizabeth. Graphic designer James Lienhart did the cover illustration, which shows each letter in the word “Guns” as twisted gun barrels and displays the word “Butter” in yellow bubble font.

Later Activity

Guns & Butter drifted apart soon after the album’s release. Peter Cohen played on the 1976 RCA release Fast Annie by singer Annie McLoone. Lyons surfaced in the pop-punk combo Angry Young Bees, which issued three singles in 1981/82 on self-press Beeswax Records. Tucker played on the 1998 double-CD Stranger Than Fiction by R&B cover band The Wrockers.

The Grossman’s next co-production was the 1976 self-titled Charisma release by Automatic Fine Tuning, identified on the cover as A.F.T. That too was engineered by Bruno. They next produced a pair of 1977 singles by pub-rockers Jet Bronx & The Forbidden, released on London-based Lightning Records. In 1980, they formed The Commercials and issued a self-produced new wave album, Compare and Decide, on Salem, Mass., small-press Eat Records. Loyd later became a television chef on ITV’s Through the Keyhole.

Guns & Butter was first reissued in 2011 by Swedish bootleggers Flawed Gems, which issued the title a second time (in Russia) in 2016. It was also the subject of an undated reissue by short-lived German archivists Gloworm.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *